Hunter likely to return Sunday, at earliest
Halos likely to ease center fielder back into lineup
BALTIMORE -- After missing his final scheduled Minor League rehabilitation game Thursday, Angels outfielder Torii Hunter was slated to be back on the field Friday, and according to Angels manager Mike Scioscia, hopes to be back in the team's starting lineup by Sunday.
"He's going to play tonight," Scioscia said, referring to Hunter's appearance in the Minor Leagues. "He feels much better today. If he comes out tonight, we'll look to get him out here this weekend and possibly play, at the earliest, on Sunday."
Hunter was scratched from his rehab game Thursday because of flu-like symptoms, and what Scioscia thought was "some kind of viral thing." The Angels outfielder has been on the disabled list since July 10 because of a right thigh strain, and the club was originally planning to activate Hunter for Saturday's game in Baltimore.
Before the injury, Hunter was enjoying a productive season. In 77 games with the Angels, Hunter was batting .305 with 17 home runs and 65 RBIs. His return to the team will help boost an offense that leads the Major Leagues in batting average and is second in runs scored.
Scioscia also said Hunter's return Sunday will cause a lineup shift, most notably sending Bobby Abreu back to the two-spot, behind leadoff man Chone Figgins. Abreu hit third in the Angels' lineup Friday, and is hitting .309 with nine home runs and 77 RBIs this season. But as for Hunter, Scioscia said fans should expect to see him in starting lineup, but it will take some time to help him get back to playing on a daily basis.
"He's going to be in our lineup, it's safe to say," Scioscia said. "There are some things we'll look at. We'll try to see how he feels coming out of these couple of days. I don't know whether we'll throw him in the lineup every day, [we'll probably] just sort of ease him back in there and just get him acclimated to things he needs to do."
Brian Eller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.